The Long Tail for Conflict Prevention

The long tail applies to more than just business.  It applies to our most basic needs, such as health and safety.  The sooner we invest in positive prevention-oriented programs, the better off as a society we’ll be.

The long tail…

The long tail refers to the statistical property that a larger share of population rests within the tail of a probability distribution, especially when it comes to buying patterns.  Popularized in the book of the same name, this distribution curve is also thought of as the power law or 80/20 rule (Pareto principle).

Now lets shift gears away from business and think of how the long tail applies to our children.

The societal benefit of teaching conflict problem-solving skills sooner that later hit home a few years ago when I saw this Statistics Canada report.  Spanning several decades of research, the study found a strong relationship between the age at which the first court referral took place (of a young offender) and the overall number of referrals in the court career.  In fact, it is a long tail

Is there any question why need more prevention programs?

What to do?

I feel a lucky guy.  Over the last decade, I’ve volunteered in numerous school-based programs oriented to conflict prevention/resolution. Continually, I’m surprised and heartened by the potential of youth, to learn and apply social and citizenship skills, including how to resolve conflicts.  And to do it starting at a very young age! Where I live, there are many fine programs that help youth move in positive directions.  Here’s a few (and maybe ideas for you?):

  • Roots of Empathy program – a program that uses babies to foster empathy in adolescents through classroom visits and intervention
  • PeaceMakers program – a The South Island Dispute Resolution Centre program that introduces conflict management, communication and anger awareness to youth in grades 3 – 5
  • Dianne Gossey’s Restitution program; I’ve been amazed to watch as entire public schools (staff, students, parents) buy-in to, and implement, this approach to conflict management
  • peer mediation sessions among young teens
  • restorative justice circles; offering young offenders a positive way to take accountability for their actions

3 Questions for you and your workplace

  1. Is there a workplace conflict management program in place? (where “our hope is to support employees to find the opportunities for personal and organizational growth that conflict provides)
  2. Conflict is normal.  Disputes happen.  When disputes arise, what structure and values for appropriate dispute resolution do you have in place?
  3. How are you nurturing the collaborative habit?

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Photo credit: WellspringCS

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